The first gay weddings could take place in Norwegian state churches in two years.
The Church of Norway’s twelve bishops Friday (30 October) unanimously voted to adopt new rules that would allow gay couples to marry in religious wedding ceremonies.
‘I am extremely satisfied that we succeeded in coming together over this measure,’ Helga Haugland Byfuglien, head of the bishop’s conference, told NTB news agency.
The proposal still needs to be approved by the synod – church’s governing body – which meets in April, and pastors would have the right to refuse to marry gay couples.
Nevertheless, the move has been hailed as a ‘historic breakthrough.’
‘This is a historic breakthrough that all the bishops recommend a church marriage on an equal basis,’ Norwegian theologian Sturla Stalsett told public broadcaster NRK.
Last year’s synod rejected a similar proposal. But it is expected to pass in 2016 as the last church elections ushered in more liberal leadership. A liturgy will then be prepared.
Norway legalized gay marriage in 2008, but it was left to the church to develop a liturgy, which it had refused to do.